Friday, February 22, 2008

What Will Happen To Stocks if a Democrat Wins?

I came across an interesting article today compiled by Mick Weinstein who publishes The Best Stock Blogs every Friday on Yahoo Finance. Various people have written opinions in an attempt to determine what an Obama led White House may mean for the American economy (Obama has a five-point lead over John McCain, according to RealClearPolitics):

• From the left: Kris Tuttle of Research 2.0 believes a November Obama victory could "materially change the world perception of the United States, which has suffered terribly under the Bush/Cheney administration." For Wall Street, that would mean "a little less uncertainty and an improved appetite for things American, including the dollar, [to] help the market recover over time."

• From the right: Donald Luskin at SmartMoney, an "unpaid economic advisor to Senator McCain," compares data from prediction market Intrade.com to equities' performance over the past couple months to conclude that "stocks have absorbed the high probability that the next president will be a Democrat. ... at first stocks were frightened by the rising prospect that the Democratic nominee might be Barack Obama. But ... stocks have now changed their minds -- they now prefer Obama to be the nominee instead of Hillary Clinton."

• San Diego-based portfolio manager Gary Gordon sees value in analyzing both the candidates' voting records and what they're saying on the campaign trail. Obama's vocal support for alternative fuels leads one to expect alternative fuels to pop higher; that could mean exchange traded funds such as the Market Vectors Alternative Energy ETF (GEX) and Powershares Global Clean Energy Fund (PBD) will outperform.

Gordon also notes that "in Obama's Wisconsin victory speech, he spoke about shifting tax incentives away from multinationals that ship jobs abroad. And he wants to give tax incentives to upstarts and smaller firms that invest in Americans." Good news for small-cap stocks? Talk? Words? Perhaps," says Gordon, "yet the day after the Potomac primary victories the iShares Small Cap Value (IJS) gained 2 percent to the S&P 500's (SPY) 1 percent." And "the day after [Obama's] Wisconsin/Hawaii victories, IJS outperformed SPY once again."

• When you look at corporations and stocks all day, they begin to take on personalities -- and those, in turn, can become useful political metaphors. Portfolio.com's Matt Cooper, likens Obama to Apple Inc. and Clinton to Dell. Cooper says the Clintons, like Dell, are still a strong brand with a thriving following, but they lack that special something: "The first woman president is arguably as radical a step, as big a moment on the world stage, as the first African-American one. But she's not a new brand. She's Dell, strong, solid, formidable -- but lacking Apple's immense coolness."

Dan Gross at Slate extends the comparisons: Obama is the alternative-energy sector, while Clinton is Citigroup. Obama is "hybrid, next-generation upstart, unafraid of entrenched market leaders, and embraced by corn-growing Iowans, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and East Coast moneymen." Clinton, meanwhile, is a "New York-based, enormously well-capitalized, longstanding market leader whose name is synonymous with the sector it dominates. A powerhouse in the 1990s is having difficulty reclaiming past glory. “

Read the first comment at the bottom of the full post—definitely slanted way left…

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